Slave revolts in Brazil before 1835

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A number of slave uprisings took place in Brazil before 1835.

Founding of quilombos[edit]

Almost all the slave rebellions had been designed and executed through the quilombo community. A quilombo was a settlement that was formed by fugitive slaves and free-born Africans. Quilombos came closest to the idea of recreating African societies in a new environment (namely, Brazil) and against increasingly heavy odds.


In 1807, slaves were planning a revolt that would take place on May 28, during Corpus Christi celebrations. Six days before the revolt would take place they were betrayed by a slave loyal to his master. The master went to the governor and he was skeptical about the situation. However, he sent his spies out into the community and he learned that a subversive plan was real and growing stronger as the 28th approached. A day before the rebellion took place the governor had mounted specific patrols in the city. With its exits and entrances under surveillance, and rural officers on the roads, the house that was the center of the planning was surrounded and searched.

After being searched the alleged leaders and captains were taken prisoner. Many weapons were confiscated from the house, such as: four hundred arrows, a bundle of rods to be used as bows, piles of rope, knives, and one shotgun.

Rural officers caught three of the ringleaders who had fled earlier that afternoon, and military patrols on rounds caught a few more identified as agents or enticers.

The goal of the uprising is believed to have been to capture ships in the harbor and make a massive flight back to Africa.


The rebellion of 1814 overshadowed the previous ones in numbers of participants and violence. Starting on February 28, slave fishermen began to burn down part of the harbor, killing the foreman and most of his family. The rebels proceeded to head to the village of Itapoan.

Resistance was met when they were trying to leave to go the next village. Troops from Salvador then encountered a bloody battle with the rebels, which left the rebels with fifty less men.

Four of the captured slaves were hanged in public and twelve were deported to Portuguese colonies in Africa.


The Muslim Slave revolt in 1835 began January 24, 1835 by rebellion organizers, Malês, or Muslim Africans. The revolt took place in the streets of Salvador and lasted for three hours. During that time seventy people were killed and a report of more than five hundred were sentenced to death, in prison, whipped or deported. Reis argues that if you bring these numbers into today’s times, with Salvador being 1.5 million, over twelve thousand people would be sentenced to some form of punishment.[1] Within these hearings, Africans spoke out about their rebellion as well as about their cultural, social, religious and domestic lives. The testimonies from court and the oppressors’ descriptions of these Africans that were enslaved brought out “priceless testimonies” of African culture with the Americas.


Not only was slavery harsh but the making of families was also extreme. In 1778, José da Lisboa wrote,“ Because of the obvious benefits accruing from male labor over female, there are always three times as many males as females among the slave population, which perpetuates the pattern of their failure to propagate as well as their failure to increase in number from generation to generation”.[2] Slave owners in Brazil viewed their slaves as replaceable and the shipment of slaves from the West Africa were insurmountable. Native born slaves populations was slightly higher women to men, 100:92, where as the Africans that were not born in Brazil were a little less 100:125, women to men. Also what was interesting was how the African men “vied” for the African woman and the formations of African families was extremely dissatisfactory and limiting even among free Blacks.[3] In terms of the relationships in Bahia there were not a lot of married couples, “As one might expect, slaves had scant opportunities for affectionate relationships either episodic or long lasting. More than 27 percent claimed to be bachelors, and that number could be raised to 98 percent if we considered those whose marital status is not known to have been single “.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jose Reis, Joao (1993). Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. London: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. xiii. 
  2. ^ Jose Reis,, Joao (1993). Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. London: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 7. 
  3. ^ Jose Reis, Joao (1993). Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. London: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 8. 
  4. ^ Jose Reis, Joao (1993). Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia,. London: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 180. 
  • Kent, R.K. Palmares: An African State in Brazil. The Journal of African History, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1965. pp. 161–175.
  • Reis, João José. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Johns Hopkins Paperbacks, 1995. pp. 41–43.
  • Reis, João José. Slave Resistance in Brazil: Bahia, 1807-1835. Luso-Brazilian Review, Vol. 25, No. 1, Summer 1988. pp. 111–114.